14 June 2014

9 Things to do with a Cucumber (Madam!)

I've just realised that today is National Cucumber Day in Britain. I had no idea, why does no-one warn you?  I've never heard “51 days to Cucumber Day” or similar on the news.  To celebrate here are all the good ideas I can think of, suddenly, for these delicate fruit.

 1. Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts

60ml fresh lime juice
1½ tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
1 fresh hot red chilli
2 tsp minced garlic
1½ cucumbers – halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red onion – thinly sliced
3 tbsp chopped salted roasted peanuts

~   Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
~   Toss with the cucumber and onion.
~   Put in a pretty dish and sprinkle with the peanuts.

2. Rasta Salad

The bright colours of this salad, red, green & gold are, of course, the signature colours of the Rastafari Movement as seen on their flag depicting the Lion of Judah.

~   Mix together 4 handfuls of tender lettuce leaves, ½ a fresh pineapple, diced,½ a cucumber, seeded and cut into julienne, 1 red pepper cut into slender julienne, 1 bunch spring onions – green parts only, sliced diagonally.
~   Squeeze over the juice of 1 lovely lime and toss to coat.
~   Taste and season bearing in mind, if you like, the Rastas don’t take salt!
  

3. Lightly Pickled Cucumber

This is my favourite way to prepare cucumber, see here for details (and for some timely info on starting, maintaining and enjoying Rumpot/Rumtopf.

4. Raita OR Tzatziki

These two sauces, Indian and Greek respectively, are very similar. Although you can just use finely chopped fresh cucumber if you use Lightly Pickled Cucumber it will stay crisp, have more flavour and won’t water down the yogurt although it might be inauthentic! 

~   Stir chopped or lightly pickled cucumber into yogurt (plain – not strawberry!)
~   For Indian Raita flavour with fresh mint, chilli powder and cumin to taste. 
~   For Greek Tzatziki add lemon, garlic, mint or dill and a little olive oil and in this case it would be rude not to use Greek yogurt!

5. Pennsylvanian Dutch Cucumbers

1 cucumber
1 medium onion
120ml sour cream
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

~   Prepare and salt the cucumber as for Lightly Picked then rinse and dry well.
~   Toss together with the onion. 
~   Dressing - mix together the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.
~   Fold the dressing through the cucumber and onions just before serving.

6. Sugar Snap Peas & Cucumber in Mint Vinaigrette

1 thinly sliced cucumber
a good handful of sugar snap peas – topped and tailed
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper

~   Sauté the cucumber and snap peas together in the olive oil together with the sugar till al dente (or, to put it another way, crisply tender).
~   Off the heat stir in the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.
~   Serve warm with lamb, for instance.

6. Cucumber Granita

2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded, chopped and then puréed
300ml simple syrup ~ see below
2 tbsp citrus vodka
~   Stir all together.
~   Freeze in a shallow metal pan stirring and crushing lumps with fork every 30 minutes till the mixture is firm.
~   To serve scrape into flakes with a fork and pile into pretty glasses.



7. Garnish a Pimms.

8. Happy Eyes

Put a cool slice of cucumber on each eye and relax in a prone position to soothe, refresh reduce dark circles and puffiness.

 9. Cheer up your Cucumber

They do say that you can make refresh your cucumber and make it last longer by placing the stalk end in a small container of water and standing it in the fridge.

Simple Syrup is just equal parts of water and sugar stirred together over medium heat till clear and then simmered for about a minute. Cool and chill till needed. See "Sorbets & Granitas" by me for about 50 sorbet and granita recipes that use simple syrup plus some other ways to use it.  


P.S: 

 In all cases I refer to this sort of cucumber...



... which, when in foreign parts, I called a “Eurocumber”, to distinguish it from the ridge cucumber ...



... which is more common in the States.  This has a tougher skin than ours but if you remove that everything should be fine.






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1 comment:

Julee Gray said...

I bought some yellow label cucumbers yesterday so have a couple of them in the fridge. Maybe T's knew it was national cucumber day and over purchased ;)